Shafaqna Pakistan: A Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) passenger plane, with an estimated 99 people onboard, crashed in Karachi’s Model Colony near Jinnah International Airport on Friday.
Sindh health officials have said that so far, 97 people have been confirmed dead. It is, however, unclear if the deceased were all onboard the flight or include area residents as well where the crash took place. Two people are confirmed to have survived the crash, according to officials.
PIA spokesperson Abdullah Hafeez said that the A320 Airbus was carrying 91 passengers and 8 crew members from Lahore to Karachi on PK 8303. Eyewitnesses said the Airbus A320 appeared to attempt to land two or three times before crashing in a residential area near the airport.
“The aeroplane first hit a mobile tower and crashed over houses,” witness Shakeel Ahmed said near the site, just a few kilometres short of the airport, according to Reuters.
Meeran Yousuf, the media coordinator for the Sindh health minister, confirmed to Dawn.com that two passengers had survived and were brought to hospitals. She identified the survivors as Zubair and Zafar Masood, who is the president of Bank of Punjab.
“Zubair has 35 per cent burns and is being treated at the [Dr Ruth Pfau] Civil Hospital Karachi, while Masood has four fractures and is being treated at the Darul Sehat Hospital,” said Yousuf, adding that both were in stable condition. Moreover, she added that five victims had been identified so far.
A third person, who had earlier been identified as a survivor from the plane, was later identified to be a resident of the area where the plane crashed.
Director Programming 24 News Ansar Naqvi was also among the passengers.
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Footage showed plumes of smoke rising from the site of the crash within the congested residential area. Ambulances and rescue officials arrived at the scene to help residents. Eyewitnesses told DawnNewsTV that the plane was on fire in the air before crashing.
Videos from the crash site obtained by Dawn.com showed bodies buried underneath rubble and residents gathering in streets littered with debris while Rangers and Sindh police carried out rescue operations.
Another video showed Edhi workers and firefighters hosing down the remains of the aircraft and searching for survivors.
Soon after the crash, Sindh Minister of Health & Population Welfare declared an emergency in all major hospitals of Karachi.
Speaking to the media outside Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre, Sindh Health Minister Azra Pechuho said that officials were currently in the process of identifying the deceased in order to inform their families.
“We don’t know how many are injured and how many are dead. I am visiting hospitals […] we were already in an emergency situation due to Covid-19 so doctors were alert. We have also alerted surgical units,” she said.
According to eyewitnesses, the plane crashed hardly a few hundred feet away from the runway. A transmission of the pilot’s final exchange with air traffic control, posted on the website LiveATC.net, indicated he had failed to land and was circling around to make another attempt, reported AP.
“We are proceeding direct, sir — we have lost engine,” a pilot can be heard saying.
“Confirm your attempt on belly,” the air traffic controller said, offering a runway.
“Sir – mayday, mayday, mayday, mayday Pakistan 8303,” the pilot said before the transmission ended.